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John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
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Onliner

What happened to forefathers who died before knowing Christ?

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Christianity has gained a firm foot hold in most countries across the world. There are now billions of Christians on earth, thanks to various missionary works.

 

But we all know this has not always been the case. Each part had at least their own form of organised ways of worshipping before they ditched them for Christianity. Also worth noting is that those who converted weren't the first of their generation -they had been others who, of course,died even before the ever knew who Christ was. What's the fate of such people?

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Christianity has gained a firm foot hold in most countries across the world. There are now billions of Christians on earth, thanks to various missionary works.

 

But we all know this has not always been the case. Each part had at least their own form of organised ways of worshipping before they ditched them for Christianity. Also worth noting is that those who converted weren't the first of their generation -they had been others who, of course,died even before the ever knew who Christ was. What's the fate of such people?

 

Hello Onliner,

 

You realize that the faithful saints believed in God and the coming of the Messiah long before we were first called Christians at Antioch? Since Genesis 3:15 the faithful looked to his coming. Job was probably written around Abraham's day, long before Moses had writ the first five book, and in Job he testifies, Job 19:25 "For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth."

 

God has revealed himself through two ways in time since creation, through general revelation (nature) and special revelation (scripture).

  • Romans 1:19-20 “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

 

Personally, I think what you're asking is known as "the man on the deserted island", an argument well known in apologetics. Many apologist would answer your question and say that man is only culpable to the amount of knowledge revealed to him. I think that is fair, because I can infer from the Scriptures when Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well, a gentile peoples without complete knowledge in their holy books which were lacking the advantage of the Jews, but undoubtedly she was one of God's elect. Jesus said to the woman at the well, John 4:22 "You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews". Mind you Jesus goes on to say, "But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him."

 

Keep in mind the importance of the Great commission, because God uses ordinary means (us) to reach his people. As Jesus emphasized to His disciples, "Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest." The time is now, and not some time in the future which emphasizes the works of Missions.

 

God bless,

William

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Hi Onliner, like Abraham, we know that salvation is by faith .. Genesis 15:6 (though he looked forward to the promised Messiah, not backwards like we do). Those who try to be good enough in God's eyes rather than coming to Him in faith, be they Jew or Greek, are facing the same end (whether they live now or in Abraham's day .. See Romans 2:12-16).

Romans 2

12 All those who sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all those who sinned under the law will be judged by the law.

13 For the hearers of the law are not righteous before God, but the doers of the law will be declared righteous.

14 So, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, instinctively do what the law demands, they are a law to themselves even though they do not have the law.

15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts. Their consciences confirm this. Their competing thoughts will either accuse or excuse them

16 on the day when God judges what people have kept secret, according to my gospel through Christ Jesus.

 

Yours and His,

David

 

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Onliner, as a Catholic you'd probably be more interested in the Catholic theological view on it than the Protestant one (which differs depending on which Protestant church you belong to). What you are describing sounds very much like the problem of what Dante called the "Virtuous Pagans", unbaptised children, those who were born before Christianity, etc. Catholicism puts them in Limbo, or Purgatory, (or Heaven after 2008's Papal debate) and as it is a complex doctrine and I'm not Catholic I attach a link below with details.

 

With Protestants, some believe in hell as the default state for all souls, with Heaven only through the offer of salvation. In contrast parts of the Anglican church believe in purgatory as a purification process rather than a place, others think it is a place, and there are other views.

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